Interesting stuff from the past few days, all similarly youth-initiated:
- Universal Studios responded to a 50,000-strong petition on Change.org created by a fourth grade class urging Universal to promote the environmental message central to the story of the ‘Lorax’, by Dr. Seuss, on the website for their upcoming film. Last month, the nine- and ten-year-olds launched the “Lorax Petition Project,” asking Universal to include a stronger environmental message in its promotions for the blockbuster film. “Some adults say they’re role models for kids, but I think we’re being role models for adults,” said Zoe, a student in Ted Wells’ fourth grade class in Massachusetts. “Even though we might be very little, we can still make a lot of change in anything we work hard at,” added Georgia, a fellow classmate. According to students, the film’s original trailer, website, and other promotional materials hardly touched on the environmental theme of the classic Dr. Seuss book. In just under a month, more than 50,000 people joined the class’s campaign, which received coverage from the LA Times and Mother Jones and support from celebrities like Ed Norton and members of the bands 30 Seconds to Mars and Solving for X.
- From The Nation, “Baltimore Algebra Project Stops Juvenile Detention Center.” When their state funding was threatened, the students formed an Advocacy Committee, researched the issues behind the cuts, and, unconvinced of the necessity of the budget axe, met with community and faith leaders to successfully stop the cuts. Today, the Baltimore Algebra Project operates on a $500,000 budget from public and private sources, and is entirely run by young people under the age of 23. While researching the school system’s budget woes in 2004, Algebra Project students learned about a long standing battle between the Baltimore Public School System, the City, and the State over school funding. A series of lawsuits alleged the State had been underfunding the City schools for a decade, and a court had ordered the State to pay $1.1 billion to the City, but the State never complied. The Algebra Project has been agitating for the $1.1 billion for the last seven years. They engage in civil disobedience, leading well-organized marches that block traffic, student strikes and walk-outs, and creative street theatre to drive home their message: “No education, no life.”
New books and journals published:
- A new book published by Dr. Carlo Ricci, author and graduate professor at the Schulich School of Education, Nipissing University in Ontario, Canada, is titled The Willed Curriculum, Unschooling, and Self-Direction: What Do Love, Trust, Respect, Care, and Compassion Have To Do With Learning? Paperback and Kindle editions are available at Amazon.
- A new international academic journal was announced this week by David Gribble, founder of the Sands School in England and a member of the journal’s editorial board, called Other Education. The journal will bring together academic writing and research from around the world on alternative schools and education within and outside of public education.